VVPAT verification: SC refuses to entertain review petition filed by opposition leaders

VVPAT verification: SC refuses to entertain review petition filed by opposition leaders

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today declined to entertain the review petition filed by 21 opposition leaders in the matter pertaining to VVPAT verification.

Senior Counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that while the prayer in the main petition was for fifty percent of the EVMs to be cross checked with paper trail, the Court had directed for an increase from one machine per assembly constituency to five. However, the petitioners would be happy with an increase to 33% or even 25%.

This exercise is important for confidence building and the satisfaction of the electorate, Singhvi argued.

The Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi with Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, however, was not inclined to entertain the review petition.

On April 8, the Supreme Court had ordered that the number of EVMs with respect to which VVPAT paper trail is verified be raised from 1 EVM to 5 EVMs per Assembly Segment. The order was passed in a petition filed by leaders of various political parties seeking physical verification of the VVPAT paper trail for at least 50 per cent of the polling stations.

A few weeks later, twenty-one opposition leaders moved the Supreme Court seeking a review of this order. 

The review petition contends that while they succeeded on the merits of their contentions, their grievance is still not resolved with the marginal increase directed by the Court. The petition states,

“The Petitioners submit that the aforesaid increase to a mere 2 % is not sufficient and will not make any substantial difference to the situation that existed prior to the passing of the impugned order. Therefore, even though the Petitioners have succeeded on the merits of their contention, their success does not resolve their grievance or cause any meaningful change to the situation that they were originally aggrieved of.”

Since the Court agreed with the contentions of the petitioners and held that VVPAT verification of EVMs ought to be increased, the number to which this increase was made should have been a substantial one so as to make this process “a real, effective, and meaningful one”, it was further contended.

However, the Court did not see any merit in this contention, and declined to entertain the review.

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